Jenny Bindon was announced as the head coach of the LMU women’s soccer team on Dec. 16, 2019, following three seasons as an assistant for the UCLA women’s team. She is the sixth person to serve as head coach of the LMU program.
Bindon is originally from Belleville, Illinois and grew up playing a wide variety of sports. In college, in addition to soccer, she played basketball and tennis, but found that soccer was the sport she excelled at the most.
“I've been fortunate enough, through life experiences, [that I've been] always drawn to play soccer,” she said.
Bindon, a goalkeeper, played college soccer at two different schools—Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and Lewis University in Romeoville, Illinois—with time in the United States Coast Guard sandwiched in between. While attending Lewis, she met her husband, New Zealand volleyball player Grant Bindon. The two moved to New Zealand after college and she continued to play soccer. While playing in a seven-a-side league, she had a chance encounter with someone from the Football Ferns, New Zealand’s women’s national team.
“Three weeks later, I went to a Ferns camp,” she said. “And then three weeks later after that, I played my first internationals.”
Bindon played for the Ferns for a decade and holds the record for the most international appearances by any New Zealand goalie, not just women’s, totaling 77. She represented New Zealand at many tournaments, including the World Cup in 2007 and 2011 and the Olympics in 2008 and 2012, which sticks out to her as a particular highlight of her career.
“To be able to play at a pinnacle event like the Olympics, you're representing something larger than yourself: your country,” she said. “So the Olympics was absolutely the most amazing thing I've ever done in sport. And I shared it with my family.”
After her retirement in 2014, Bindon wanted to remain involved in soccer. She had explored coaching during her playing career and decided to pursue it full time. She has served as an assistant coach for multiple New Zealand women’s youth national teams and also spent a season as co-head coach of Takapuna AFC, a semi-pro men’s team in New Zealand. She was only the second female coach in team history.
Her most recent position prior to accepting the LMU job was as an assistant coach and goalie coach for the UCLA women’s team from 2017 to 2019.
Between her time at the collegiate, professional and national levels in two different countries, Bindon has gained insight into soccer’s role as a truly universal game not defined by nationality or gender.
“I often get asked, 'Was it harder to coach men or women? Is there a difference?'” she said. “Yes, there is a difference between men and women. But at the end of the day … the game's the same. And [that's] the beauty of soccer, it's one of the few sports that nothing changes. The goals don't change, the size of the ball [doesn't] change, the field doesn't change.”
Bindon has been employed at LMU for about a month, but the Lions have been on her radar for many years. She fell in love with the school's athletics thanks to the success of the men’s basketball team in the late 1980s and appreciates LMU as a whole.
“I actually think this is a beautiful campus. I love the Jesuit community,” she said. “And I've always thought if this job ever came open, I would probably like to [take it] … it's an ideal location to coach and to live.”
Slowly but surely, Bindon has begun to settle in and feel like a part of the LMU athletics department. She inherits a Lions team that went 4-12-3 this past season and 3-13-4 in 2018, but is optimistic that she is putting a system in place that can return the team to winning ways.
“We're in the process of building a culture and environment that will lead to a high-performing, elite [level of] success for us,” she said. “We're trying to create a high-performance environment to give our players the best opportunity to win in the WCC and NCAA.”